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Customers who want to reschedule

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Marshall Reid, Jun 22, 2020.

  1. Marshall Reid

    Marshall Reid LawnSite Member
    Messages: 30

    My two teenage boys have a very part time lawn care business, but after college, they will be taking it full time. We're trying to employ practices now, though, that are as if they have a full time business.

    One problem that has come up recently is when a customer (residential) asks to wait a week or a few days to have their lawn mowed. This customer is on a normal 2 week schedule, and we have the route planned, and it's the same customers on the same day every 2 weeks. If we put him off a week at his request, that throws the route out of whack. We have learned that a tight efficient route is critical to making the most money in the shortest amount of time possible, so putting him on a different day messes that up since it would mean going out of the way to get to his house.

    The main reason this has been requested (it's come up a few times over the last couple of years with different customers) is that due to lack of rain, the customer doesn't feel it's necessary for them to come mow. I can completely understand their position, but at the same time, we need to worry about our efficiency. Nobody does contracts in this area, so we can't fall back on that and tell them it's in the contract that they're coming to mow every 2 weeks no matter what. If they just totally skip them and wait another 2 weeks, that's lost money as they don't get to mow that yard, plus it means it'll end up being 4 weeks before that yard is mowed which presents the problem of being high and overgrown at that point.

    How do y'all address this with customers who make these requests from time to time? Do you explain these things up front with customers when you first procure their business that you'll be coming every 2 weeks regardless of what's happened and how high or low the grass is? Do you address it only as it comes up, and if so, what do you say? Do you move the customer to a different day or week and just suck it up as part of doing business, even if it means a less efficient route?

    Thanks in advance for any help y'all can provide!
     
  2. grass man 11

    grass man 11 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 482

    Routes are routes and pricing given is based on that route. A mail man could not deliver an envelope for the price of a stamp if he wasn’t on a route. A garbage service doesn’t come the next day if you forget to put out the trash.

    if they want to skip, then they wait until the next route opening, which is normally the following week. Weekly service is standard for my market, so we charge more for bi-weekly , and if they skip, they have to wait until their next normally scheduled service date -2weeks later. If the grass grows over 6” when we come out to mow, it a double charge.

    the alternative is to create contracts where you get paid regardless, they have their own pros and cons.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Marshall Reid

    Marshall Reid LawnSite Member
    Messages: 30

    All of that makes sense. As I mentioned, it's every 2 weeks in our market and definitely no contracts. So do you tell customers this information when you first gain their business or only on an as needed basis?
     
  4. grass man 11

    grass man 11 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 482

    When they first sign up.
     
    Crazy 4 grass likes this.
  5. Hayduke

    Hayduke LawnSite Senior Member
    from Oregon
    Messages: 411

    I doubt that is entirely 100% true. Look around and I'm sure you will find the exception. Until you have a contract in place, the customer can hire you at will-kind of like a month to month rental agreement versus a year lease...
     
    Cam15 likes this.
  6. OP
    OP
    Marshall Reid

    Marshall Reid LawnSite Member
    Messages: 30

    Trust me, in our area, nobody does contracts. Maybe on the other side of town in the more affluent areas, but definitely not here. If we tried to get someone to agree to a contract, they'd laugh in our face.
     
  7. Unraveller

    Unraveller LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 376

    Start cutting grass on the other side of town instead.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Marshall Reid

    Marshall Reid LawnSite Member
    Messages: 30

    As I said in my original post, this question is for my two teenage boys who have a very part time business while they're in school. We are not going to have them drive 30 minutes to the other side of town to try to drum up business and hope they find enough customers over there that might accept contracts. This idea is even more inefficient and costly than just agreeing to reschedule the customer. Totally unhelpful.
     
    zlandman likes this.
  9. BigJlittleC

    BigJlittleC LawnSite Fanatic
    from Chicago
    Messages: 8,284

    Don't call it a contract. Use the term service agreement or service scheduled plan. Call it whatever you want just have it say what your going to do. When your going to do it and how much your going to be paid to do it. That my friend is a contract doesn't matter what heading or title you use on the paper.

    I as the professional gets to make the call when my clients grass gets mowed.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Marshall Reid

    Marshall Reid LawnSite Member
    Messages: 30

    I like the idea of a term service agreement or service scheduled plan. This would be similar, I suppose, to what the first person who responded to my question was saying - he lets them know upfront what they can expect from him and what he expects from the customer. The word "contract" is what is very offputting to people around here. That word has a very negative connotation and conjures up images of not being able to change service if they're not happy, being charged even if no service was rendered, etc.

    If it's just a matter of letting the customers know how everything works and what charges there will be for any deviation from the scheduled plan, I think everybody would be agreeable to that.
     
    Crazy 4 grass and hort101 like this.

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